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The study subjects had been thin all their lives, and not because they had unusual metabolisms. They just did not care much about food.

They never ate enormous amounts, never obsessed on the next meal. Now, a group of researchers in Britain may have found the reason.

The people carry a genetic alteration that mutes appetite. It also greatly reduces their chances of getting diabetes or heart disease.

The scientists’ study, published on Thursday in the journal Cell, relied on data from the U.K. Biobank, which includes a half million people aged 40 to 69. Participants have provided DNA samples and medical records, and have allowed researchers to track their health over years.

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Mutations in the MC4R gene usually lead to obesity by preventing a sense of fullness. But one such mutation leaves people uninterested in eating, scientists report.CreditCreditSusan Wright for The New York Times

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